The Beatons of Somer… no – Dorset!

My grandfather’s RIDOUT family only crawled a couple of miles across Bath over five generations; my Orchard folk lived in the untamed badlands of Widcombe (Bath) from the mid 16thC, migrated across the river into the city centre in the early 18thC and stayed put for another four generations. This ancestral immobility caused me to suppose that I’d find a similar story with the forebears of my maternal grandfather William Henry BEATON (1862-1938), a blacksmith born in North Cadbury in Somerset.

William BEATON

William Henry Beaton (undated)

William Henry, or Harry as he was apparently known, was a grandson of John Beaton and his wife Ann (née TAYLOR); John’s family mostly stayed in rural Somerset although after she was widowed, Ann moved to Bath and may have lived with her middle son Joseph who, when he retired in 1892, had notched up an amazing forty-one years of service with the City of Bath Police. Joseph’s younger brother, my great great grandfather Robert John (1832-1904), was a journeyman tailor; he stayed in the North Cadbury area, married Sylvena Smith GREGORY in 1860, had nine children and finally died at hospital in nearby Wincanton from heart disease. His son Harry probably made the move to Bath later than his uncle, perhaps when he started working for John HOWARD & Sons of Argyle Street in the city; his obituary shows that he stayed with this company for more than forty years before enjoying a short retirement. Harry learnt his trade with a blacksmith called Samuel HARDING in Ilchester, Somerset according to the 1871 census.

Until I was preparing material for this post these few basic facts were as much as I had covered in the way of researching my Beaton history; so I thought perhaps I’d better dig a bit deeper. Starting off in the usual way, with census records, I soon experienced déjà vu when I discovered, as I had with my x3 great grandfather John Ridout, that my x3 great grandfather John Beaton was not a Somerset man after all but had been baptised at St Nicholas’ church in Nether Compton, Dorset!

A Dorset genealogist, who some while ago made a comprehensive collection of Nether Compton records, shared the fruits of his research with me: John Beaton, a cordwainer (and later also a schoolteacher) was the son of John and Dinah (née CAREY), baptised in 1762. John’s father was baptised in 1732 to yet another John and his wife Betty (née TOOP). I was reasonably satisfied with my rapid Beaton ancestral fact finding and hadn’t really thought about exploring further – after all the last time I became involved with a ‘John somebody’ it took up over a decade of my life but this time I only wanted a bit of background material for a book chapter! However, it seemed expedient to at least enter some baptisms, marriages and burials into my records because they weren’t difficult to find: John, son of Robert and Mary Beaton baptised August 10th 1732 at Nether Compton. Robert Beaton married Mary BUGGIS (another wonderful surname) on the 22nd August 1727 at Over Compton. The couple had possibly as many as eleven children whose baptisms dominated the parish register at the time.

So much for all the usual records. Next I plundered some of my older sources. Loathe to be parted from a curmudgeonly old friend, when I bought a new computer last year I kept the previous one and wired them together so that they can run simultaneously (I did this because the old PC runs Windows Vista which means that I can still use old software on CD, like the Burial Index and British Isles Vital Records Index). Given that there is a chunk of Nether Compton parish records missing from the registers between the end of 1662 and 1692, I used the BVRI as my source.

If you have hours to waste, on a wet Sunday afternoon for example, I can recommend downloading a few pages of vital records and patiently putting them into different coloured family groups on a spreadsheet for entertainment. When I did this for the Beatons in Nether Compton and Over Compton I noticed that there weren’t that many family groups baptising children concurrently, possibly as few as two, one of which I knew was mine (highlighted in yellow).


BVRI baptisms for BEATON in the Comptons

However, the next source was possibly one of the most useful; the Dorset History Centre, at Dorchester has a very comprehensive online index to their holdings (also on the National Archives ‘Discovery‘). Having entered ‘BEATON’ I was rewarded with a fair few property leases and these can sometimes be a gold mine of information, for example:

(DHC D-YMB/3298 10 Nov 1701)

Marriage Settlement.

(1) Robert Beaton senior of Nether Compton, yeoman, his daughters Mary & Hester Beaton, spinsters, Benjamin Boone & Elizabeth his wife, another daughter of (1). (2) Robert Beaton, junior, John Clement of Chiselborough, Somt, clerk & Jeremiah Hayne of Yeovil, Somt, grocer. Lands (many field names) at Nether Compton. Mentioned: Sir George Horsey dec’d, Robert Beaton dec’d, Richard Childs, William Taylor, Robert & Thomas Master, Frances Clement, spinster, sister of John Clement. Witnesses: Thomas Clement, Thomas Hobbs.

Followed by:

(D-YMB/3299 11 Nov 1701)

Assignment of Lease. (1) John Clement of Chiselborough, Somerset, clerk (2) Robert Beaton, junior of Nether Compton, yeoman. Closes of pasture called Divehill & Foxmore (9½ac), Nether Compton. Mentioned: Paul Clement, clerk & Mary his wife, parents of (1), Frances Clement, sister of 1), Allen Cunnington, gent, Sir George Horsey. Witnesses: Benjamin Boone, Thomas Hobbs.

From these it is possible to deduce that a Robert Beaton (senior) was a yeoman, had three daughters, Mary, Hester and Elizabeth, (who married Benjamin BOONE on the 7th Jan 1700 at Thornford). Robert also had a son Robert Beaton (junior) who, it would appear, is about to marry Frances CLEMENT, daughter of Paul, clerk (in holy orders) and his wife Mary, sister of John Clement, a clerk. The Clergy Database shows that Paul was ordained in 1652 and was rector of Nether Compton from 1660 until he died in 1704.

And then:

D-YMB/3300 14 Apr 1722

Mortgage. (1) Robert Beaton of Nether Compton, yeoman (2) Valentine Weyfield of Sherborne, carpenter. Closes called Divehill (4½ac) & Foxmore (5ac), Nether Compton. Mentioned: Allen Cunnington, gent, John Beaton of Nether Compton, yeoman, Sir George Horsey dec’d, Paul Clement & Mary his wife, dec’d, their son John Clement of Chiselborough, Somerset, clerk, Richard Childes, William Taylor of Nether Compton, yeoman, Frances wife of (1) and sister of said John Clement. Witnesses: Robert Eyres, William Sampson.   

Robert Beaton is no longer ‘junior’, hence his father had probably died. Paul Clement and his wife have also both died. Frances, Robert’s wife is still living and this entry shows that her brother John was a rector at Chiselborough; whilst his father’s living as a rector in this parish is recorded, son John’s is not. There is a mention of John Beaton, obviously an adult since he is a yeoman, but without any explanation of who he was in relation to Robert.

D-YMB/3338A 17 Oct 1735

One-year Lease (in anticipation of Release). (1) Robert Beaton senior of Nether Compton, yeoman & Frances his wife & their son Robert Beaton junior, yeoman (3) John Townsend of Lyons Inn, Middx, gent. 7 cottages in Newland & 2 cottages in the churchyard, Sherborne, Barley Close (3ac), Snakewell (3½ac), Nether Compton. Mentioned: Hugh Greene dec’d, John Pitman, Mary Pitman widow. Witnesses: Samuel Moore, Samuel Way.

Robert Beaton has now added his wife Frances and son Robert as lives into a lease; the latter is a yeoman (he is now nearly 30yrs old). The properties, which were first mentioned in 1731, comprised seven cottages in Newlands, Sherborne and a further two in Sherborne Abbey churchyard. Then came another genealogical gift:

D-YMB/3340 17 Dec 1735

Mortgage. (1) Robert Beaton senior of Nether Compton, yeoman (2) John Prankerd of Sherborne, hosier. 7 cottages in Newland & 2 cottages in the churchyard, Sherborne, Barley Close (3ac), Cutthedge (2ac) at Compton Quarr, Hippingstock Field (½ac), Foxmoor (3½ac), Nether Compton, Brown’s Mead (8ac) in Trent. Mentioned: Hugh Green dec’d, John Pitman, Hugh Hodges dec’d, John Clement dec’d, Robert Beaton late father of (1), Henry Beaton, late grandfather of (1). Witnesses: Samuel Foot, Samuel Way.

Further properties are mentioned. Frances’ brother John has died. More importantly, not only is Robert’s late father Robert mentioned but also Robert’s late grandfather, named as Henry Beaton… my x9 great grandfather!

D-YMB/3343 5 Sep 1738

Further Mortgage. (1) Robert Beaton senior of Nether Compton, yeoman (2) John Prankerd of Sherborne, hosier. 7 cottages in Newland & 2 cottages in the churchyard, Sherborne, Barley Close (3ac), Cutthedge (2ac), Hippingstock Field (½ac), Foxmoor (3½ac), & tenement called Stalen Living, all in Nether Compton, Browne’s Mead (8ac), Trent, & Barbarrow (8ac). Mentioned: Hugh Hodges dec’d, John Clement dec’d, Frances Beaton dec’d wife of (1) & Robert Beaton their son, Nicholas Hillary dec’d, John Russell of Bradford Abbas, linen weaver. Witnesses: Samuel Way, Thomas Arnold. 

Sadly, Robert’s wife Frances has died (she was buried on the 2nd July 1737 at Nether Compton)

D-YMB/3346 19 May 1740

Assignment of Mortgage. (1) John Prankerd of Sherborne, hosier (2) Robert Beaton of Nether Compton, yeoman (3) John Bastard of Blandford Forum, cabinet maker. For mortgaged properties see D-YMB/3340 & 3343. Mentioned: Robert Beaton dec’d, father of (2) & Frances his dec’d wife, Martha Clement of Hardington, Somerset, widow of John Clement, John Russell of Bradford Abbas, linen weaver, Nicholas Hillary dec’d, Charles Martin of Stalen, William Gould junior & Elizabeth his wife, James Sugg & Mary his wife, & others. Witnesses: Samuel Foot, John Yeatman.

This lease shows that now Robert Beaton ‘senior’ is no more (Robert was buried at Nether Compton 28th August 1739).

So now I have some knowledge of several generations of my family; my superficial research has taken me back from my grandmother Elsie, to her blacksmith father William Henry (Harry) son of tailor Robert John, who was son of cordwainer John, who was son of John (and Dinah Carey), who was son of John (and Betty Toop), who was son of Robert (and Mary Buggis).  Next I had a line which started with Henry Beaton, father of Robert a yeoman (and Dorothy MASTERS), who was father of Robert a yeoman (and Frances Clement). It was a short step to link the two lines together since the Robert, at the end of the first line, is almost certainly the son of the man at the end of the second i.e. Robert Beaton,  who was baptised on the 4th March 1706 in Nether Compton to Robert and Frances, was the same man who married Mary Buggis at the age of twenty-one. No doubt in the next few years I’ll spend a considerable time in investigating this part of my family more thoroughly but thought it best for now to present here what I believe is a line of succession of my Beaton forebears, from seven generations in Nether Compton and one in North Cadbury to at least two in Bath:


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Giles Ridout of Virginia or John Ridout of Sherborne (b.1699)?

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people in the US who descend from a chap called Giles Ridout of Virginia. Giles, reputedly a sailor, boarded HM Ship Ludlow Castle which left Kent (Deal) on the 15th October 1728 and docked at Virginia on Sunday the 27th March 1729. The ship had been commissioned for secret service, whatever that implied.

According to what I have been told, once in Virginia Giles married a lady called Frances in ~1730 and they had children: Mary (bn. 20th May 1732, bp. 18th Jun), William (bn. 10th Jul 1740, bp. 31st Aug) and Giles Ridout (bn. 8th Feb 1744, bp. 13th Mar 1744, bur. Sep 1744) (York County Parish Records). Giles & Frances moved with their family to Dinwiddie County in about 1745, said to be at about the time of son John’s birth, although there is no formal record for this boy as far as I know. Giles and his wife died before 1752,  and their children, still minors, were allegedly taken by the County Court to be raised.

These descendants of Giles Ridout of Virginia generally believe their earliest ancestor to be Giles Ridout of Henstridge, Somerset (1600-~1646) and, indeed, as my blog post shows, there is a well documented line from him down to Giles (bn. 1699) in London and it is the latter that some people believe to have emigrated in 1728 (for which purpose I have discovered that he would have had to abandon his wife Hannah and their children Giles and Maria, which I think was unlikely to be true).

As some readers may know, a few years ago I started a Rid(e)out one name yDNA study in an attempt to ‘fit’ some branches of Ridouts and Rideouts into one or more larger trees. Two of the early project members descend from John Ridout (b.1745), son of Giles; their yDNA sequences shared 36/37 STRs (markers) and one of the men also matched identically to three members of the project shown, genetically and on paper, to descend from George Ridout (b.1701) of Sherborne. I have written a good deal about George, son of Christopher Ridout of Sherborne (1669-1743) miller and baker, great great grandson of William Rydowte of Hyle (1554-1621), my x10 great grandfather.

Recently a new chap joined our FTDNA project and he has a reasonably well documented descent from David Ridout; he also has an identical yDNA sequence to the Sherborne Ridouts and so matches one of the other two descendants of Giles of Virginia. So all three men descend, down different lines, from John of Dinwiddie; this shows that the ‘odd man out’ must have one common mutation in his own line, without which he too would match the Sherborne Ridouts.

FTDNA results show that when two men have an identical match of 37/37 markers the probability of their having a common ancestor about four generations back is 83%. However, if a paper trail shows that these two men cannot be that closely related then the probability is that their common ancestor being within eight generations is a massive 97%. To give a practical example: suppose that Giles the Virginian was actually a son of Christopher Ridout, and hence a brother of George Ridout, he is alive about eight generations or less from these three FTDNA members. One of the men pointed out to me that, since there is no history of a man named Giles Ridout in my Sherborne family, Giles probably didn’t come from Sherborne. My personal feeling is that the DNA results suggest otherwise but I realise that I had to at least try and find some evidence of a man called Giles Ridout living in the appropriate time frame as a member of the known Sherborne branch; as my family is so well documented the mission seemed impossible.

I’ve always been aware that there was another man who left England to start a new life in America; we know very little about him but time wise he who would be an ideal candidate for Giles… on the 4th July 1699 a boy named John was baptised in Sherborne Abbey, the firstborn son of Christopher Ridout by his wife Mary Glover. Unlike his brother George, about whom so much has been written, all I know about John is that he’d ‘sailed to America as a consequence of a disappointment in love’, had married there and hadn’t returned. Could he actually have been called Giles? Had there been an error in the parish register entry? Did he change his name from John to Giles? Interesting theories perhaps but I knew that I’d have to do better than that if I was to convince anyone to look elsewhere for their roots! In the event, the strongest evidence to date came from an unexpected source…

John Ridout’s nephew, also John (bn. 1730) was George Ridout the baker’s son. A clever young chap, John was chosen in 1753 to be secretary to the newly appointed governor of Maryland, Horatio Sharpe; the 23yr old student was recommended by Horatio’s brother Gregory Sharpe who’d been John’s tutor at Oxford University. [Horatio and John sailed together to Maryland, arriving in August 1753. Eventually, through a quirk of fate John inherited Sharpe’s Whitehall estate in Annapolis and became the eleventh wealthiest man in Maryland]. The ‘Oxford Alumni 1500-1886’ records:

‘Ridout, John s. George of Sherborne, Dorset pleb. Corpus Christi Coll. matric. 9 March 1748/49 aged 18. BA 1753.’

John also attended Sherborne School [he received a bursary at Oxford from Dr Nathaniel Highmore which was only granted to boys on the recommendation of the governors of Sherborne School] and would have entered at about the age of 10 but there is no record of him in my volume  of The Sherborne (School) Register (2nd ed.), published 1900)…

…and then there was an entirely, unbelievably timely surprise a couple of days ago… I was looking at a pile of papers that I’d been given by a fellow researcher; he did not belong to the Sherborne Ridout family and therefore would not have seen the significance of what he’d recorded. Many years ago he’d made a transcription of Ridout entries from the The Sherborne Register (4th ed.), published in 1950; this edition alone includes details of pupils who did not appear in what had survived of the School’s registers but had, according to a long standing tradition at Sherborne, inscribed their names and year of entry to the school on the stonework and ancient wood panelling of the former school room; such entries were marked in the book with an asterisk. The author had taken it on himself to record all of these boys’ names, which must have been a labour of love since there are many hundreds of carvings on the walls of this fairly large old room. Each entry in the book was appended with what was known of the subject at the time. There was one entry for 1740 which I think provides a clue to our mysterious Giles:

* ‘1740. John Giles Ridout, perhaps son of George Ridout, baker, of Butcher’s Row, near the Conduit, Sherborne; b.1730; Corpus Christi College, Oxford, matriculated 22 November 1748, aged 18; BA 1753’.

So George’s son John, for whatever reason, called himself John Giles. Why? Like Giles, John emigrated to America to start a new life; leaving England for Maryland not long after Giles had died in neighbouring Virginia. John was born the year after Giles had emigrated, but neither boy nor man was christened with a middle name Giles – why would either of them assume a middle name at all? Oddly enough, in 1757 George and his second wife had a son and christened him John Gibbs Ridout, the only one of George’s ten children to officially be given a middle name at all! So, was George’s brother, John Ridout, actually known in the family as John Giles too? When he started off for his new life in America did he drop his first name in favour of a middle name, a common practice even today? I can’t prove it but at least I can say in all honesty that I HAVE found a man in the Sherborne family who used the named Giles – and I think that his uncle did too.


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